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May 22, 2019

Mediaite: Trump Treasury Secretary Tells Black Congresswoman There Will Be No Harriet Tubman Bill During His Tenure

Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin chose to break the news that there will be no Harriet Tubman $20 bill during his tenure by having that information dragged out of him by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).

At a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday, Pressley began her questioning by asking Mnuchin if he believes that “representation matters in American politics and imagery?”, to which Mnuchin replied “Yes.”

She also asked “Do you believe people other than white men have greatly contributed to this country and its history?”, to which Mnuchin also replied “Yes.”

Pressley then asked Mnuchin about the status of an Obama-era plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill by the year 2020.

“Since [Obama Treasury] Secretary Lew’s departure, we have not heard anything regarding the status of the currency redesign,” Pressley said, and asked “Will the redesign meet the 2020 deadline, yes or no?”

Over the course of several minutes, Mnuchin gave variations on the same response, which was that “the primary reason we’ve looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues. Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.”

“I’m just wondering if you could explain that to me, because after an exhaustive community process where people who organized for quite some time, and you said you do share my sentiments and opinion that our currency should be more reflective of the contributions and diversity of the those contributions, why the delay?” Pressley asked, as Mnuchin interupted to object.

“No, I didn’t say that the currency should be reflective…” Mnuchin said.

“Well, you said imagery,” Pressley interrupted.

“I said imagery, not referring to currency, referring to lots of things,” Mnuchin said.

“Do you support Harriet Tubman being on the $20 bill?” Rep. Pressley asked.

“I have made no decision as it relates to that, and that decision won’t be made, as I said, until 2026,” Mnuchin said.

Pressley noted that Trump, as a candidate, called the plan to put Tubman on the twenty “pure political correctness,” and suggested putting her on a $2 bill instead.

“So do you agree that nearly a year of collecting response from across the country can simply be reduced to political correctness?” Pressley asked.

Mnuchin evaded the question, so Pressley cut him off and asked “So does that mean you have no intention of executing the redesign as planned by your predecessor?”

“Well, that is correct,” Mnuchin said, “I have not made a decision to execute on a redesign, or haven’t made a decision. But yes I haven’t made a decision.”

Fact check: deciding not to do the currency redesign during your entire term in office is making a decision.

Pressley asked Mnuchin for his personal opinion on the issue several more times, but Mnuchin refused to give one, beyond his earlier responses.

Until Wednesday’s hearing, the Trump Treasury Department had simply put offanswering questions about the Tubman bill by saying they hadn’t made a decision yet.

Watch the clip above, via C-SPAN.